Having been shooting weddings for so many years, our photographers are always being asked about wedding timeline for photography. Truly, the wedding experience depends on whether the timeline is well framed or not. And Los Angeles is such a diverse region where different cultures have different ways to celebrate so this article is not a steadfast schedule for everybody but a general guideline for couples to consider frame their wedding. We hope these tips from our photographers' perspective be useful for our brides and grooms.
*** Getting-Ready ***
Time Allocation: 60-90 min
Location: Home, Bridal Suite or Hotel Room
Tips: Set this getting-ready session in the morning or early afternoon. We can start to take photos when the makeup is almost done. This one-hour photo session will be a good opportunity for immediate family members, friends and wedding parties to interact before the ceremony happens. We will capture the moments when the bride and the groom are getting dressed, the mother or the maid of honor helping the bride putting vein or hairpiece or shoes on and other preparation details. We cover the details such as rings, dresses, suits, accessories, flowers and other memorable pieces for the wedding day. If the getting-ready sessions for the bride and the groom are happening in two locations, we suggest two photographers for this session with each covering one party at the same time. If they are in the same location (such as two rooms in a hotel), we can shoot the groom for 30 minutes first and leave 30-60 minutes for the bride.
*** First Look ***
Time Allocation: 30 min
Location: A Getting-Ready Location or At the Ceremony Venue
Tips: We definitely love shooting this session. First look is one of the most emotional parts of the wedding. When one party sees another, all the aspiration, emotion and anxiety come together. Some couples get really sentimental during their first looks. We just can't miss these moments. We usually direct the groom to come to the position first standing back to the bride and have the bride walk towards him and tap him from behind. We suggest two cameras for this moment, one covering the groom's angle and one covering the bride. The actual first look takes only about 5 minutes but afterwards we will shoot romantic couple portrait before the couple dive into the party with guests. It will be perfect if we can take 1 hour after ceremony for romantic couple portraits but if not we at least could secure some good photos for just two of them before the ceremony.
Time Allocation: 30-60min
Location: Chapel, Church, Gazebo or any wedding venue that you like:)
Tips: We will try not to block the guests and disturb the ceremony while capturing all the emotions and moments in this part. If you have any special rituals that would happen during the ceremony, please let our photographers know in advance so that we can be in the right position for shooting them. For church ceremony, we will need to know the restrictions on photographing during the mass, such as lighting restrictions or photographers' positions. As the ceremony goes on, we move from time to time to shoot different angles with different lens and make sure the couples will have photos for all the moments from various perspectives.
Time Allocation: 20-30 min
Location: Wedding Venue
Tips: Snap some family group shots right after the ceremony when the family members are at the same place. Our coordinator or venue's coordinator helps to gather the family members by group, the photographers take group photos one by one. The couple may put together a shooting list for the group pictures depending on the number of family members to make the photoshoot simple and easy.
***Wedding Party Portrait***
Time Allocation: 30 min
Location: At the getting-ready locations with natural lighting and open shade
Tips: Formal or fun? No matter which style you like, this is the most creative part for photographers. Most of our clients would order prints for these photos because wedding parties are most important people for the day and the photos are most memorable. During this session, we snap shots of the whole wedding party when the couple is having fun with everybody after the ceremony. We recommend to shoot these photos in open shade with adequate lighting outside of the venue where the shade is big enough for the entire party. If this session is towards sunset, we will set up flash lights to make sure everyone is under proper lighting. It's more efficient to have the wedding party taken before the couple portraits so that the party can take a break after the photoshoot and we can focus on the couple.
***Romantic Couple Portrait***
Time Allocation: 30-60 min (often during cocktail hour)
Location: In the venue or off-site locations such as park, beach or garden
Tips: After the ceremony and photos with families, the newlyweds would love to take a few minutes just for themselves. Our photographers will scout for good locations before the shoot. Usually towards the sunset, the lighting is the best for outdoor photos. We take romantic elopement-styled photos by using the sunset golden lighting and letting the couple interact with each other intimately like there is no one else around.
***Venue and Details***
Time Allocation: 20 min
Tips: Photographers will need a few minutes to take photos of the empty venues including all the decoration, table setting, center pieces, reception table, sweetheart table and more. Please make sure that there is a gap time between the completion of decorating and guest entering for photographers to take these photos.
Time Allocation: 15 min
Tips: The entrance as husband and wife team for the first time is all about the cheering, hugging and applauding with the guests. The entrance is followed by announcement of dinner and toast with the guests. We would love to shoot the exciting entrance with different angles to secure more good shots.
Time Allocation: 30 min
Tips: The bride and the groom hit the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife. The first dance is followed by father-daughter dance and mother-son dance. Some couples will invite other couples from guests to join them in the formal slow dance. For each venue, we use various lighting and shooting setup for these pictures. The couple need to coordinate with DJs for scheduling these dance sessions.
Time Allocated: you can dance all night :)
Tips: The rest of the party is mostly dancing. But the traditional programs are welcome to have including: money dance, guest toasts, bouquet toss, garter removal and last dance. Otherwise, just play some music, light up the room and open dance floor to all the guests. We the photographers will keep shooting, flashing and moving with you.
Time Allocation: 15 min
Location: outside of the venue
Tips: The grand exit with sparklers or a getaway car is a very unique way to finish the night. You can either have a real exit and leave the site or you can treat it as an exit for photography and you go back to the party. The photographers usually will wrap up after this grand exit.